“Try for a record of an emotion rather than a piece of topography. Wait till the building makes you feel intensely...”
– Frederick H. Evans quoted in The Amateur Photographer in 1904
Frederick Henry Evans is considered one of England’s finest photographers of medieval cathedrals. He is also known for his delicate woodland studies and his portraits. Evans’ masterly platinum prints reveal his sensitive yet rigorous approach to light and composition. Defying the conventions of Pictorialism that prevailed at the time, he advocated a style of photography with minimal alteration of the image.
Evans owned a bookstore in Cheapside, London, where he befriended such intellectuals and artists as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. In the mid-1880s, Evans began experimenting with photography and made a series of photomicrographs of shells, for which the Royal Photographic Society awarded him a medal in 1887. He had his first solo exhibition at the RPS three years later. Eventually Evans became a fulltime photographer, turning to the study of architectural monuments, a subject popular among British photographers of the 19th century (Ely Cathedral, St. Etheldreda's Tomb, 1891). He became a prominent member of the English Brotherhood of the Linked Ring, a Pictorialist association dedicated to the advancement of photography as fine art.
In 1905, Evans was commissioned by Country Life magazine to photograph parish churches and French chateaux. He sent some 60 prints to Alfred Stieglitz, an American photographer and publisher who had praised Evans’ poetic photographs in his seminal journal, Camera Work. Stieglitz exhibited Evans’ work in 1906 at the 291 Gallery in New York. Evans also contributed articles to various magazines and journals, where he articulated his “plain prints from plain negatives” theory of photography. By 1909, he was increasingly focused on landscape photography (In Deerleap Woods, Surrey (in memory of George Meredith), c. 1909), and continued to work into the1930s.
In 1928, Evans became an honorary fellow of the RPS. His work is represented by the Royal Photographic Society in Bath, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York.